tv The Dylan Ratigan Show MSNBC March 19, 2012 4:00pm-5:00pm EDT
when the time comes. the show starts right now. good monday afternoon to you. i'm matt miller sitting in this week for the vacationing dylan ratigan. our big story today, money ball. or should we call it dialing for political dollars. this political sector is wrapped in green, money that has super pacs in millions galore. for $38,000 last week, you could have seen the president and gazed upon oprah and tyler perry. also last week for about 3 grand, you could have snagged a front row seat on wall street with mitt romney to talk about venture capital. and who could forget this? vice president joe biden saying the republicans don't understand the middle class. you had to pay $10,000 per couple to hear that message in person.
money, as one california politico said ten years ago, is the capitalist. $45 million raised for obama, 11.5 million for romney. we act like this money chase is somehow normal. so why do we tolerate a system in which our leaders spend most of their time hustling for cash to get reelected, which means they spend every spare moment listening to wealthy americans gripe about things like taxes instead of everyday americans whose problems are far more serious? we start with politico's david lef en -- leventhal. give them the full picture. what's the total bill going to be this year for auction 2012? >> look at it this way.
in 2008, wall the federal elections going on, whether it was presidential, about $32 billion worth in spending. you can take to the bank that will be obliterated in the 2012 election cycle. we've seen seen predictions of close to $10 billion worth of spending, obviously a huge amount above and beyond what we just had four short years ago. i bet if people were getting 100% increase on their stock returns, let's put it that way, they would be pretty happy over a four-year period. >> does that 6 to 10 billion include all that superpac money? >> it would, and this is the great story of the presidential election in 2012. of course, this is the first presidential election that we've had super pacs in the equation. we had them in 2010 during the midterm elections, but they simply didn't exist back in 2008. so now what you have, really, is most of the super pacs engaging
in friendly fire, if you will. it's kind of republicans shooting at republicans. just wait until the republicans have a single nominee to get behind and it's barack obama versus that nominee, be it mitt romney or whoever else, and it's really a d versus r equation as opposed to r versus r. >> when you talk about r versus r, i know john mccain has talked about the impact of this firing squad the republicans are going through with all this super pac money. >> those super pacs have played a key role, unfortunately, in my view, because most of them are negative ads. this is the nastiest i have ever seen. in my view it's gotten way too long, and gotten way too personal, attacks on each other, and it's very unfortunate. and who has vetted from it? president obama. >> if mccain is saying this is the ugliest he's ever seen it,
he was the victim of some pretty ugly attacks back in south carolina when he was running for president. what if we've got all these billionaires bankrolling, funding all these negative ads. it may be bad for the republicans but it's even worse for the system overall, isn't it? >> president obama had his name on the legislation in 2012. even mitt romney has said this is a disaster when it comes to superpacs. barack obama has been a critic of major money even though he said last month, you have to start donating to my super pac because i'm getting hurt here, i'm getting my butt kicked. what we have now is a situation where neither the democrats nor the republicans are going to universally disarm this election cycle. the broader question is after
this election is over, after this money is spent, after we talk about the billions of dollars that have been spent, are democrats and republicans actually going to get together in any bipartisan way to change the system? it's a very difficult thing to do to get people finally to agree what should happen going forward, because at the end of the day, they're all beneficiaries of the system even if they find it to be unpalliatable. >> what doesn't get discussed is wait it warps their time. you're constantly at cocktail parties and fancy dinners that have been set up by your staff to pass the tin cup, and in your day-to-day conversation you're hearing people gripe about capital gains taxes and corporate taxes as opposed to, you know, 50 million people uninsured, a minimum wage that's lagging inflation.
you know, the fact that people work full-time and still live in poverty which is the concerns of everyday americans. say more about how they're spending their time to do this and how it works our system. >> we're tracking fundraisers all the time, and sometimes we'll see a single congressman, a single candidate, having two, three fundraisers in a single day here in d.c. this is republican, this is democrat. this is not unique to any single party, it's the way of washington. it's the way of washington largely because expensive races are just that, they're expensive and more expensive than they've ever been in the history of the united states. if it costs a million and a half dollars to run a successful house race or $10 million to run a successful house race, you have to get the cash under the system right now if you expect to be competitive with the other guy who is probably out raising just as much as the other guy, if not more. >> i know i talked privately and
publicly with the guys who can't stand having to dial for dollars, but in reality that's what they do. obviously mitt romney is looking right now very strong in the polls. what's the impact of money in that race in particular? has he been able to kind of blanket the airwaves in typical fashion to kind of push off santorum's negatives and get him over the finish line again? >> make no mistake, he has a huge advantage over rick santorum. he has the advantage, number one, in his own campaign structure, number two, the superpac supporting him as exponentially more amounts of money than the super pac supporting rick santorum. romn romney is in a good position from a that standpoint. if you don't have the money that is resonating with the voters, then you may run yourselves into
some problems. the poll numbers are very close, as we can see, but mitt romney has been spending and outspending the rick santorum campaign and superpac without question. the question is, is it going to mean enough to him when the polls actually open up tomorrow in l.a. and the race is won? >> when we look in the general direction, the white house is sort of trying to, i guess, scare the donor base, and the latest reporting from you guys and others shows that the obama race is lower. he's got more production from dollar donors than he does in the last cycle. is the white house right to be worried about this, and what are they going to do to try to close the gap? >> they're obviously not pleased with this. you want to be putting up the biggest numbers that you possibly can at this juncture or any juncture for that matter. but this is a different situation. it's different for one reason because barack obama is not yet running against anyone, for all intents and purposes.
four years ago he was running against hillary clinton. this was an incredibly competitive race and there's nothing like competition to drive dollars. so until he really has a republican candidate to directly run against as opposed to sort of running against mitt romney or sort of running against a republican, then the cash probably isn't going to flow in nearly as fast as he would like it to. so if mitt romney does establish himself as the true challenger to barack obama going forward, then you can probably expect that the people who are excited about barack obama or who, you know, may be on the fence about their support for him are going to consider donating a lot today at this juncture, which for all intents and purposes is still early in the game. >> david levinthal from politico. i'm sorry your beef has to exist, but given it does, i'm glad you were on the case so our viewers had the chance to get smarter on this. thanks for taking the time. >> i appreciate it. thank you. coming up on the d.r. show,
how do you like them apples? investors finally getting a slice of the action but why now? plus, mounting debt, unemployment, an aling health care system. is the u.s. in more dire straits than we realize? bob dylan and you. unleashing the power in all of us to imagine. ♪ game. i love it. i take the stuff everywhere. exactly. everyone's more energized, more alert. i've lost their respect. last night i hit on a dirty hyena and she laughed in my face. that's nasty. remember when i used to be it? i was the man. you needed to track the gazelle down for dinner, you came to me. oh who's laughing now!? gazelle!!
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. today the u.s. soldier accused of killing the 16 afghan civilians appeared in court for the first time. he is being held at ft. leavenworth prison in kentucky. they say it is too early to speculate about what may have led to last week's incident. witnesses say he had been drinking at the base earlier. he also had financial problems at home and had been passed up for a promotion. four tours of duty, a string of kmen additi commendations and it all ends this way. the grquestion is are we fighti hard enough, or are we doing
damage? sam cedar, the host of the majority report. sam, let me start with you. when you look at what we're learning about robert bales, this is someone who went through four tours -- i talked to a senior officer before coming on the air today who said, you got to look at what we're doing to our army when you've got this narrow swipe of the population being asked to go back again and again and again with problems back home, with injuries and trauma, psychological trauma that they're suffering. at some point, some people snap. it's not an excuse, but it is a factor we have to get serious about. >> exactly. this is one of the costs of war, that we all have to pay. and i'm not in any way excusing it, i think it should be into the calculation as to whether or not we should be in afghanistan because at this point, there's -- these type of experiences and these type of events are to be expected, and they're baked into the cake. so the real question is not just
what happened to this one individual soldier, the real question is why are we still there? why are we still allowing these types of events to happen? >> the other question, imogen, to bring you in, the question is we don't have a draft. we have this all-volunteer army, so as a practical matter, the sons and daughters of the elite, the ones actually making the decisions about life or death, their kids are not in harm's way, so the thought that this could continue for ten years with no end in sight, without a plausible vision of what success or victory would mean, it's probable that they're put under such stress. again, it's not an excuse, but we could find ourselves in a situation where this kind of degradation can be taken. >> you're absolutely right. they've got financial stress. a recent survey of personnel
came out with 42% are really worried about money. they've got combat stress, they've got financial stress, and they may have marital stress on top of all that. we have to ask, are we asking too much of our troops at the moment? as a society, do we need to be contributing more to their welfare. >> tim, do you think we need to have a draft to prevent something like this, at least to make sure we have shared sacrifice in all sectors of society so we're not only putting some of the hardest working folks from humbler backgrounds in harm's way like this? >> it's not true that it's simply on more of the poor. there is an even distribution of the parents and the individuals themselves who end up serving in the u.s. military. that's trying to justify a draft which i find to be a very unliberal idea, to force people into military service. >> it's not about being liberal,
tim, it's about having different segments of society. i don't know about the statistics you're talking to, but when i talk to military officers who i am friendly with, they say precisely that, that it's not shared across all sectors of society. we're not going to be able to finish the statistical dispute on this, but do you have friends in the military, for example? >> if you count friends of whose weddings i have attended, i have 14 friends who have served about 25 to 42 in afghan or iraq. you're from california, i'm from a conservative catholic background, lots of people from northern virginia there. but i agree with sam here. the problem is that when you go off to war, however well you train your people, however well you recruit your soldiers, people having guns in stressful situations in foreign cultures, these sort of things will happen. so every time we go into a war and every day that we stay in a war, we have to think one of the things that weighs against our fighting this war and continuing this war is that this kind of thing is more likely to happen.
i'm saying that not to say our army or marines are horrible or that these people are horrible or we need to train them better, but this is what happens when you go to war. >> well, let us move to -- obviously this is an issue we'll be coming back to a lot, but another big thing in the news today is that apple, the highest valued company on earth, not long now after steve jobs has passed away, is deciding to issue its first dividend ever, sam. let me start with you on apple. there are some folks who say, well, it's about time. they've had this $100 billion cash horde, it's about time they started sharing it with shareholders. apple is kind of a unique example of a growth company that keeps growing even with its incredible size. does it mean if they're going to start returning the cash to shareholders that they don't have more profitable uses in the business any longer? >> they have a real lot of cash, and i mean, this is not a
typical company in terms of the amount of cash they sit on. and i don't think it's a coincidence that -- from what i understand, steve jobs didn't particularly appreciate dividends because he felt just that, that it's a fairly unimagi unimaginetive way to spend a company's money when you could be spending it on research and whatnot. but they are sitting on a tremendous amount of cash. again, my feeling is, if you're upset they're not paying dividends on the stock, don't buy the stock. >> imogen, that seems fair. that's kind of a shareholder -- it's a free market, although it does -- it is interesting that a chunk of their cash is actually held overseas and if they brought it back, it would be taxed at reasonably high rates. that's one of the corporate tax reform things that the multi-national, and they can continue to refresh that, just
from the earnings of the clos sal sales of the ipad and others. >> he clearly said it much better than me. apple has, i think, $65 billion in cash on board? that would be much better in this society here, in america. they want to bring all that be unanimous za. >> i'm glad sam is touting the free market. i want to go into what this has to say about the economy, right? why -- apple isn't the only corporation holding onto all this cash. if you look at wall street banks, they're sitting on big piles of money. lots of corporations are sitting on big piles of money and saving, and i think that's directly related to the fact that households aren't. the savings rate is going down, the debt rate is going up, and
if apple is saying, a, we don't see a great investment out there to make, so we'll be paying out dividends. this is more bearish signs, i think, for the future of the economy. with the corporate savings rate being so high and apple paying this dividend is saying, well, we're not confident that funeral american conservatives will have that future power. that's one of those things, the high corporate savings rate and high savings rate show us. >> i guess if they're forced to raise the wages they're apparently paying to fox. the panel is going to stay. straight ahead, what separates the best from the rest? the author of a provocative new book on why nations fail.
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paves roads of power, and nations help the road to prosperity. the co-author of "why nations fail." welcome, professor, and congratulations on all the early buzz your book is getting. it seems like you just published and you're everywhere. we're thrilled to have a chance to talk to you. tell us, what's new in your analysis of the drivers in prosperity from what has previously been fought to account for the differences in wealth and poverty of nations? >> hi. thanks very much, matt. i think there are a lot of staple ideas that come up when people start thinking about why some nations fail or prosper. some talk about geography and resources, others talk about culture, haitians are poor because of a haitian culture or china prospers because of
chinese culture, or sometimes they talk about enlightened leadership as if our leaders don't really know what to do, and it's all about their advisers and how smart advice they get. but what we really emphasize is that it's really all about the politics of it. and by politics i don't mean romney versus santorum or just republicans versus democrats, but who has political power in society and how they can use it. because that determines whether the elite in society are going to permit inclusive institutions that provide incentives for innovations and investment and provides a level playing field so the majority of the population can use their talent. >> before i bring sam in, how would you assess the united states on that score? when you think of the lessons that you got from history, are we in a situation where our elites have become arguably too self-serving and entrenched in ways that are not disbursing
power opportunity broadly enough to continue to sustain the prosperity we've endured for so long? >> great question. in the big picture, the u.s. still have institutions, but the institutions have been on a slide. when you look at inequality, it's very sharp. the top 1% earns almost 25% of national income. but more worry is the fact that there has been greater political inequality in the u.s. not everybody has the same political voice in the u.s. lobbying campaigns, super pacs and just the very wealthy hearing their voices heard shows that we're on a politically uneven environment. when politics becomes unequal, that's how they start undermining the institutions that have underpinned their growth. >> of that dynamic, when you
have a bureaucracy acting in a way that's skwequestered from t needs and varieties of a society, how does it begin to break down? what are the practical implications? >> i think the way it starts breaking down is that the political system becomes responsive only to the voices and the wishes of a very small minority. when you look at great power that have failed in the past, for example, venice, the way it happened is exactly the sort of process that we are fearing in the united states right now. its political system started closing down, and once the political system became more monopolized by a particular group, then its economic institutions started changing and stagnation set in. so the real danger for the u.s. to watch out for even more than what happens to the incoming equality is what's going on with political inequality. >> imogen has a question? >> i do.
when my very period of american history is the revolution of 1668, and i was just wondering why it was in your book and tell me about that. >> it is the glorious revolution. they are mostly about people having the power. before the glorious revolution, almost all society, with perhaps the small exception of venice, were ruled by elites and the elites ruled with a divine right. and the glorious revolution, you know, it changed many things. the stewart kings, james ii was deposed, and it was not a very peaceful affair but it was not a bloody revolution like the french revolution and it led to a whole series of changes. i think the most important part of it is captured in a single image. when they brought in william orange to replace him as the new king, it was going to be a very different affair, and it started
when, before giving the crown to william orange, they first read him the bill of rights or the declaration of rights which became the bill of rights. so the people who deposed william orange were telling him, you don't rule because of the divine rights, you rule because we have given you the power, and if we don't like what you do, we can take it away. that's where theie let's started becoming strained and that's the rule of inclusive institutions. >> i wonder how much sensationalism of power contributes to the monopolization of power. when i was in wall street last fall, one of the things i realized was that a lot of these people who were fairly young didn't grow up in a place where there were stronger, local governments and stronger institutions or churches and all that that had the power. yes, as you pointed out, lobbyists in the big businesses, like general electric gets to call the shots, it is the federalism or the distribution
of power in your study have a way of sort of preserving a more democratic distribution of political power. >> i think it's a collective. and that's the worst of it all. in somalia, there is no law and order. if you. so you want the central government but you don't want the senate got to be strong. if it's too strong, it hasn't has been associated with the elites having their way. in the midwest, the central government is powerful. for a central economy like the united states, you need a lot of business for the. people who want to have special interests being deals with politicians.
-- it does seem like the argument comes down to prosperity being driven by the quality of elite in the society, because it's still theie let'ses that set up. -- or just plunder from above. does this all come back to. >> i would put it differently. i think the quality of the elites and how theie let's govern is very important. but you can't bank on the good knife natur good-natured elite doing what's good for society. you need to make sure the elite is behaving in the right way. when you think about the founding fathers, they were good in their own ways. not just because they were absolutely helpless, but they
made rules so the future government wouldn't be restrained, and more importantly, that the federal government would be open to your rings. there was slifry, there were lots of other problems and things like that came much later. but the start of the course where the institutions develop and made sure that the elites are doing the things that they should be doing. and i think the real danger right now is not that we don't have high-quality elites, the real danger is that the institutions are being eroded and then that opens the way to somebody who is not good intentioned or even somebody who is good intentioned doing the right thing. the book is "why america fails." a good book for those questions
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he used a marching band to play him out of the building. talk about making some noise. hopefully these guys already had new jobs lined up before they quit, because something tells me they won't be getting glowing references from their old bosses. after this, are you daydreaming of another career? our next guest says it's time to imagine more in your life. ♪ imagine there's no heaven ♪ it's easy if you try now washg at shutting down post offices coast to coast. closing plants is not the answer. they want to cut 100,000 jobs. it's gonna cost us more, and the service is gonna be less. we could lose clientele because of increased mailing times. the ripple effect is going to be devastating. congress created the problem. and if our legislators get on the ball, they can make the right decisions.
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we let our mind wander during that horrible staff meeting or rush hour. we're most creative when we're daydreaming. and it's not just for the creative types. our next guest claims that the entire idea that some people are creative and others are not is all a big myth. this is a wall street columnist and the author of "imagine" which is in book stores today. what are the big things we need to understand about creativity that science has been helping us push back our ignorance on in recent years? what are the highlights? >> one of the big things that i think science can bring to the subject is to show us what's actually happening inside our head. i think there's something inherently mysterious about creativity, why we have these epiphanies in the shower or
while we're daydreaming, and i think we can begin to understand how to have more of them. one of the most counter intuitive findings say we should drink an extra cup of coffee or chain ourselves to our desk, that's actually the wrong approach. we have our best ideas when we take a break, that the answer only arrives when we stop looking for it. >> you used bob dylan as an illustration of that process. talk a little about that so folks can understand. >> the story i tell in the book is the story of how he wrote "rolling stone." it happened after he quit songwriting. dylan went up to upstate new york, wants to become a novelist and a painter, and after a couple days out of nowhere, he has his big idea for a new song. he said the words just poured out of him. he wrote 20 pages of script, and somewhere within those 20 pages were the comic lyrics for "like
a rolling stone." the answer arrived only after he stopped looking for it, that he was done with the singing, he was done with the songwriting, he thought he had quit because he didn't know what else to write and that's when he wrote his best song. >> now, just from personal perspective, i write a weekly political column, and i find that sometimes columns just sort of come to me at odd hours and i feel like my duty as a writer is just to sort of be there with pen and paper to capture it when the idea kind of spurts out, then it might take hours to write later, but it almost seems kind of unbidden even when you're engaged in the world and thinking. what's going on in our brain when that happens? >> that's what's sort of mysterious about these moments of insight, that they arrive when we least expect them, and they tend to arrive when we're most relaxed, like when we're in the shower. we're most relaxed and forced to let our mind wander.
scientists have given undergraduates in brain scans these puzzles for a part of the brain called super interior vortex, just behind the ear, that shows a slight spike in activity just before you have the epiphany. this is a brain area no one knows too much about. it's been associated with jokes, when you hear the punchline of a joke. what it seems to be very good at is drawing together unseemingly good ideas. when you need a big idea, whether it's for a newspaper column or for how to invent the next gadget, that's typically where this is going to come from, it's going to come from the brain area which is really good at a seeming connection between seemingly unrelated things. >> i know steve jobs had that fame under the circumstances quote about creativity is just, putting together things that already exist. tell me a little more about
that. >> i think sometimes we look at new ideas and we assume they're invented out of thin air. when you look at these questions from the perspective of the brain, you realize they're just people who can find connections between things different than the rest of us and they have nothing in common. yet these people are able to see the thin fled that holds them together. those are most often the radical ideas, that creativity is not made out of what it's meant to be. it's always looking for that thread of connection. >> you talk also about there are kind of these moments of insights kind of creativity, but also the nose to the grindstone kind. hard work has a place to burnish, at least incrementally, once an idea is formed. is that right? >> i wish science could tell us it's always a good idea to take a shower or take a vacation or go for a walk, but unfortunately after we have these epiphanies, we still need to go through edit after edit.
it's the red pen on the page, it's just good old-fashioned work, but that's still required. what the science can help us do is figure out when we need to put in the work or when we should take a break. when we should take a shower, put in some ping-pong, stop finding the answer. we need to diagnose our problems and then adjust accordingly. >> you've got kind of five big tips for pushing creativity. what are they? >> most everything from don't brainstorm. the scientist suggests that brainstorming is a bad idea. another good tip is when you're stumped, that actually forces your brain to think in new ways. sometimes, like we said, you have to stick with it. it's also important to know when to take a break. research suggests when people are outsiders, when you're on the fringe of a domain, that's when you're the most creative.
the experts are capable of solving a problem but they run into dead ends again and again, so we should give our hardest problems to people on the outside. >> last question, kind of a double one. what is your biggest kraefb. >> i think that was one of the findings. >> my biggest hurdle was that i. writing about this book and learning about where insights come from, and how they tend to happen, when we're relaxed, has taken a lot of einsteins, the residue of time wasted. in a sense, what this book is helping me do is get better at wasting time. . when we're not rele lacksed.
moments like this when you've hit the wall, when you're totally stumped, that means you should have a beer, take a shower, find a way to get relaxed. . if nothing else, you made me feel better about having that drink on the plane before coming out with a column. >> thanks so much for having me. >> chris matthews at the pre-primary action tonight as voters. kelly got on an important anniversary for women. whee! whee! wheeeeeeeee! ah heads up. wheeeeeeeeeeee!
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. it's monday which means it's time for a rant from kelly goth who is back in d.c. kelly, take it away. >> today it seems that there's very little that political parties can agree on, except maybe cookies. somewhere in the congress, you will find republicans and democrats alike munching on a thin minute or a samoa. why? because it's girl scout cookie time. what you don't know is how many members of congress used to sell girl scout cookies. when it comes to leaders, not a single college or sore rorty can touch the girl skouts. 70 members of congress, all female astronauts and every secretary of state to date were all girl scouts. katie couric, george holly and
yours truly. bde president debra lee, among others, all credited the girl scouts with achieving the success they endure today. but recently the girl scouts came under fire for being a tool for planned parenthood. well, if representative morris and others want to see fewer growth of planned parenthood, mighty suggest they buy some cookies. both sides have usually ignored one of the most important proponents to preventing team pregnancies -- goals. the greatest predictors for which teens are likely to engage in sex at an early age is the stability of their family life, their peers and their goals. in other words, it's not enough to say to a teen, don't have
sex, you could get pregnant. you have to tie those messages to specific goals, as in, remember, if you want to be a lawyer someday, it's tough to achieve these goals if you're a teen mom. while this is not the messaging of girl scouts, i do want to point out that the mission of the group is to instill missions and goals to girls who want to achieve their young girls. so if you really care about seeing girls make some healthy choices, buy some girl scout cookies. you're future col you're. when they got ready and executed those annual drives for the cookies, it was like training and becoming a small business person. which streets to go down to try
and beat your opposition and deliver for the group. why are people positiliticizing something as good as the girl scouts? >> i got insights from different persuasions as to how they impacted their life. but you're right, it does train us to not be as picky, and girls don't typically work well together. girls who participate in that learn at an early age how to work together and teamwork, and i think that's why we see so many leaders come from girl scouts. >> it's a great topic, keli, and i'm so sorry we hear politicians get on their soapbox and sound off this these issues that have nothing